Changing Attitudes About Death (As We Grow Older)

Remember when you were a child and you first realized what death was? Did you run to your mother and ask if you were going to die? And when she said, “Yes, honey,” did you start crying? And when she said, “But not for a long, long time,” did you stop crying? Or was it just some of us who had that experience?

The concept of death is hard to grasp when one is young and full of life. As years go by and we lose a relative here and a friend or classmate there, the reality of death becomes clearer. But when we are teenagers and young adults, we feel bulletproof. We don’t generally think about our own deaths, because they seem so far away.

As we glide into middle age, mortality becomes more certain. (Not that anybody ever thinks he or she they will elude the Grim Reaper in the long run.) We note occasional deaths of people our own ages. Strange aches, pains and spasms cause us to wonder if they may be the beginning of something big.

As we hit our 60’s, we notice that more of our contemporaries are passing away. We may look at the obituaries in the newspaper or online each day and check the ages of all who are listed. A knowledge that has been at the back of our minds for decades now moves to the forefront.

The point is that our thoughts about death change radically as we pass through the ages of our lives. The fact that death is inevitable is easily whisked aside in the early decades. When it comes back into a more prominent spot in our consciousness later in life, that inevitability may be easier to deal with and acknowledge.

Hospice employees deal with all these attitudes toward death on a frequent basis—with patients, caregivers and family members. Among those that Hope Hospice serves, some are ready to address realities while others must make adjustments. This is where a hospice team of professionals can provide a type of service that’s different from other forms of medical care.

Even as a person becomes less uncomfortable with the concept of death in the later years of life, facing up to one’s own death is generally difficult. Our entire Hope Hospice team carefully guides patients through this journey to the end of life. Chaplains and social workers help prepare patients (and caregivers and other family members) for the inevitability of death. This element of care is what makes hospice truly special.

For information about hospice care and all its components, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.



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